brazil's best kept secret: our guide to Itacaré

Three weeks.

That's all we had remaining of our mammoth two year Latin American adventure when fate guided us to Itacaré. We were looking for sun, sand and relaxation.

What we discovered was paradise. A small cocoa scented village where shoes were not required and time did not matter. A perfect hideaway edged by secluded beaches and wrapped in rainforest, where days turned into weeks and we pretended we never had to leave.

Great plans were never made, days instead guided by the tide and the sun, passed on beaches with wonderfully tropical names, the scent of coconut, suncream and lime in the air and another icy caipirinha in our hand.

How long Itacaré can continue to be so deliciously under the radar remains to be seen, but one thing is clear - something this beautiful cannot remain hidden forever.

So, heading to Brazil? You simply have to add Itacaré to your itinerary - and here's everything you need to know for when you get there!



For those of you nursing a hangover or craving beach time with no fuss, you'll be pleased to know that there is not just one, but four beaches within short walking distance of the town. 

However, unless you crave a busy beach with lots of restaurants, our advice is to avoid the closest - Praia Concha - and instead head to picture-postcard Resende. This small cove, backed by a handful of wooden shacks serving coconuts and cocktails is a beautiful spot to lay down your towel and watch the world go by - as long as it's not high tide, when the beach disappears! Top tip: there's a small tapioca cart here that sells the most amazing cheese, tomato and basil tapiocas - if you haven't tried one of these Brazilian delicacies, now is your chance!

Accessed by a very short coastal path from Resende is Tiririca Beach, a busier but still beautiful spot popular with surfers. We spent a couple of afternoons here, but quickly learnt that the higher cost of cocktails meant nipping back around the corner to Resende worked out considerably cheaper! 

Playa Resende, Itacaré, Brazil

For an area that is all the more stunning for its lack of development, it is of little surprise that the area's most beautiful beaches require a tad more effort to reach - think long walks through rainforests, under waterfalls and, in some cases, over small streams. 

Playa Resende, Itacaré, Brazil

However, in the case of a couple, good things certainly do come to those that, well, hike! 

Case in point? Praia Prainha. This isn't just a pretty beach, this amazing stretch of white sand is considered by many to be the best in Brazil - and, despite what local guides will tell you, it is possible to reach independently following a well-trodden path from Ribiera (the last beach on the Itacarés main road). Due to our paranoia, and the odd documented case of robbery along the path, we didn't bring a camera with us for this adventure (we advise you not to take valuables either), but this blog post has some great pictures, and an explanation of the route.

Beaches in Itacaré, Brazil

The final beach you absolutely have to visit during your time in this tropical paradise is Jeribucaçu. Famous in equal parts, for its excellent surf break, crystal clear lagoon and amazing beach-made barbecued fish, this praia falls very much under the descriptive term 'off the beaten track', and you may well have the entire place to yourself.  To get there, take any local bus heading out of town towards Ilheus and ask to be dropped off at the start of the trail, around 9 km outside of town. From here there is a sign indicating the entrance to a dirt road - follow it down a steep hill for 3 km through the trees and have a well-earned ice-cold coconut on the beach.

Itacaré, Brazil


We know, we know. If you're anything like us, the most 'active' you're going to get here is walking to and from your beach towel and lifting a caipirinha. However, given that Itacaré is famous for its surf breaks and consistent swell, there may well be a few of you that want to catch a few waves between coconuts.

For absolute beginners (or those looking to up their game) there are a number of surf schools in town offering multi-day classes - Easy Drop Surf School or Medians do Mar both come highly recommended - whilst pros can rent a board from any of the many spots along the main street and hit up one of the four surf breaks within walking distance.

Itacaré, Brazil

Not into surfing? The rugged landscapes of the Cocoa Coast mean that there is still plenty for the adventurous sort in Itacaré including white water rafting on the nearby Contas, rainforest treks and even whale watching tours from July to August. 


Where to eat

We were bad budget-backpackers in Itacaré.

With an abundance of fresh seafood, amazing Bahian cuisine and the most delicious black beans and mashed potato we have ever eaten, we really couldn't relegate ourselves to the kitchen very often. Throw in a fantastic veggie burger, and even better veggie middle eastern food and it's amazing we ever went to the supermarket!

Itacaré, Brazil

There are so many restaurants in town, it would take you weeks to visit every one, put here are a few that should definitely check out:

Agua na Boca - we went back to this restaurant three times, and only tried one dish (a hearty plate of fried fish, beans, rice and creamy mash) it was that good! 

Sabores da Bahia - Widely agreed to serve the best moqueca in town, and deemed bloody delicious by us.

Bestante Elefante - Hands-down the best burger in town with an exceptional veggie option.

Alamaim - It's rare to find good Middle Eastern food in Latin America. It's even rare to find a restaurant that only serves vegetarian versions! Lots of mezzes and wraps so you can mix and match, but be warned that the portions are pretty large.

Tio Gu Café Creperia - Amazing crepes served in a place oozing with cool surfer vibes.

Itacaré, Brazil

For those of you staying somewhere with your own kitchen, be sure to check out the local fish market. The opening times are a little hit and miss (more often than not after midday), but a great place to pick up some great value fresh seafood.


Where to drink

It is not until the shadows grow long and the sun begins to set that the streets of Itacaré come alive - and nowhere is this more apparent than in the handful of bars along Pedro Longo (the main cobblestone street). 

Itacaré, Brazil

Whilst the night life is tame compared to big cities like Rio, you can still find some great post-beach action in this small town, centred around Jungle Bar and its neighbours. Here, amongst creaky distressed wooden benches, lothario-like bartenders mix dangerously strong caipirinhas atop old wooden carts and the the road fills with sidewalk drinkers and impromptu buskers. 

Expect to pay around 8R for a drink from a bar, or 6R from a stall.

For something a little more upmarket, be sure to check out Marley's down by the harbour. Run by expats, it offers food, live music and great cocktails!

Oh, and one last tip: should you hear an amazing voice singing about chocolate, follow it, listen and then buy a bar or two - trust us, you won't regret it!


Getting there and away

Unless you have a car, the only way into or out of Itacaré is by bus, which head north and south regularly throughout the day (there are buses to Ilheus every hour).

Itacaré, Brazil

If you arrive late at night, jump in a cab. It really isn't very far and at 15R is pretty overpriced, but we really wouldn't recommend anybody walking into town with all their valuables in poorly lit streets - especially single females.

If like us, your next destination is a little further afield, then we'd recommend a flight from Ilheus, which is two hours from Itacaré and has flights all over Brazil.


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Our favourite place in Brazil wasn't the party metropolis of Rio or the roaring waters in Iguazu Falls, it was here, in this tiny beach town on Bahia's Cocoa Coast. Heading to Latin America's behemoth? Itacaré needs to be on your itinerary! Click on the pin for our great guide.

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